Posts tagged with "Emerging Voices":

Emerging Voices 2018 Night 4: LA-Más & Estudio de Arquitectura

Emerging Voices 2018

Helen Leung, Elizabeth Timme, LA-Más, Los Angeles Luis Aldrete, Estudio de Arquitectura, Guadalajara Introduced by Paul Makovsky 1.5 AIA and New York State CEUs The fourth evening of the annual Emerging Voices lecture series. Emerging Voices spotlights individuals and firms based in the United States, Canada, or Mexico with distinct design voices and the potential to influence the disciplines of architecture, landscape architecture, and urbanism.

Nonprofit urban design group LA-Más focuses on underserved Los Angeles neighborhoods. It collaborates with community members, government agencies, and developers with a goal to grow cities equitably through design projects and policy initiatives. Recent work includes Go Avenue 26, enhanced public transit access near a major highway overpass in East Los Angeles; and “Backyard Basics: An Alternative Story for the Accessory Dwelling Unit,” a conceptual proposal exploring how collectively developed accessory dwelling units could serve as a model for affordable housing along the LA River.

Since establishing Estudio de Arquitectura in 2007, Luis Aldrete has designed residential, hospitality, and cultural facilities, where he works with local craftspeople to employ construction techniques developed over generations. Recent projects include BF Residence, a Guadalajara house whose program nods to the traditional Mexican hacienda; Rinconada Margaritas Residential Complex, a high-rise development in Guadalajara that responds to an adjacent ravine; and Pilgrim Route Shelters, an infrastructural network of shelters designed with other collaborators to support an annual Jalisco pilgrimage.

Paul Makovsky is Vice President of Design at Metropolis Magazine. He served on this year’s Emerging Voices committee.

Emerging Voices 2018 Night 3: Comunal: Taller de Arquitectura & Davidson Rafailidis

Emerging Voices 2018

Jesica Amescua and Mariana Ordóñez Grajales, Comunal: Taller de Arquitectura, Mexico City Stephanie Davidson, George Rafailidis, Davidson Rafailidis, Buffalo Introduced by Stella Betts 1.5 AIA and New York State CEUs The third evening of the annual Emerging Voices lecture series. Emerging Voices spotlights individuals and firms based in the United States, Canada, or Mexico with distinct design voices and the potential to influence the disciplines of architecture, landscape architecture, and urbanism.

Founded in 2015, Mexico City-based Comunal: Taller de Arquitectura provides design services to underserved communities. Their work centers around five methodological axes which they feel are fundamental to “developing inclusive, participatory, and contexutal projects.” Recent work includes Childbirth Houses, designs for midwife workspaces informed by extensive dialogue with an indigenous Chiapas community; and Territory and Inhabitant, a research project for a house that could be built in Yucatán for less than $10,000.

Stephanie Davidson and Georg Rafailidis established Davidson Rafailidis in 2008. Both are members of the architecture faculty at the University of Buffalo and have also taught at the RWTH Aachen University in Germany and the University of Toronto. Recent projects include He, She & It, a structure with three distinct workspaces for a Buffalo couple; Café Fargo (Tipico Coffee), a coffee shop in a former corner store also in Buffalo; and Mirror, Mirror, the winner of a competition aimed at reimagining the street festival tent.

Stella Betts is a co-founding Principal of the New York-based LEVENBETTS and a past Emerging Voices winner in 2009. She has taught at Columbia University Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation, The Cooper Union, and Cornell University’s College of Art, Architecture, and Planning, among other institutions. She served on this year’s Emerging Voices committee.

Emerging Voices 2018 Night 2: AGENCY & Fernanda Canales

Emerging Voices 2018

Ersela Kripa and Stephen Mueller, AGENCY, El Paso Fernanda Canales, Mexico City Introduced by Sunil Bald 1.5 AIA and New York State CEUs The second evening of the annual Emerging Voices lecture series. Emerging Voices spotlights individuals and firms based in the United States, Canada, or Mexico with distinct design voices and the potential to influence the disciplines of architecture, landscape architecture, and urbanism.

AGENCY was founded in 2010. Partners Ersela Kripa and Stephen Mueller use research, publication, and design to explore broad-ranging issues such as material ecology, government policy, and ethics. Recent projects include Fronts, a research project and book focusing on the relationship between military doctrine and informal urbanism; Breach, which explores the simulated environments developed to train military and security forces; and Border Dispatches, a series of Architect’s Newspaper articles about the U.S.–Mexico border.

Fernanda Canales grew up in Mexico City, where her eponymous firm was founded. She believes “architecture is about creating connections between people, territories, and history.” Recent projects include Bruma House (with Claudia Rodríguez), a residence divided into different modules organized around a central patio, with each location based on views, orientation, and vegetation; Reading Rooms, flexible community spaces that can be built by residents of low-income neighborhoods; and The Monterrey School of Higher Learning in Design, a new campus on the city’s outskirts.

Sunil Bald is a co-founding Principal of the New York-based studioSUMO and a past Emerging Voices winner in 2010. After an initial term as Louis I. Kahn Visiting Assistant Professor at Yale, Bald has continued to teach design studios and visualization at the School. He served on this year’s Emerging Voices committee.

Emerging Voices 2018 Night 1: modus studio, Future Green Studio

Emerging Voices 2018

Chris Baribeau, modus studio, Fayetteville David Seiter, Future Green Studio, Brooklyn Introduced by Jing Liu 1.5 AIA and New York State CEUs The first evening of the annual Emerging Voices lecture series. Emerging Voices spotlights individuals and firms based in the United States, Canada, or Mexico with distinct design voices and the potential to influence the disciplines of architecture, landscape architecture, and urbanism.

Established in 2008, modus studio works across a variety of scales, from furniture design to master planning. The studio is founded on the idea that “relevant and inspiring architecture can be sourced from simple, everyday experiences.” Recent projects include Green Forest Middle School, a reinterpretation of traditional school design for a small agricultural community; Eco Modern Flats, a renovation of four dated Fayetteville apartment buildings to improve aesthetics, performance, and sustainability; and a transformation of a warehouse on a brownfield site into a University of Arkansas sculpture studio.

David Seiter established Future Green Studio in 2008 as a landscape architecture firm that recognizes a “deep integration” between architecture and landscape with an emphasis on research, fabrication, and horticulture. Recent projects include Nowadays, a Queens performance venue with a laid-back, parklike atmosphere; Spontaneous Urban Plants: Weeds in NYC, a book promoting the aesthetic and ecological benefits of weeds; and Half Street, a block-long pedestrian plaza in Washington, D.C. that uses green infrastructure to manage stormwater runoff.

Jing Liu is a co-founding Principal at New York-based SO-IL and is a past Emerging Voices winner in 2013. She has been a faculty member at Columbia University Graduate School of Architecture, Planning, and Preservation since 2009 and advises the Master’s thesis at Parsons The New School of Design. Liu served on this year’s Emerging Voices committee.
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AN profiles the 2018 Emerging Voices winners

The Architectural League of New York’s Emerging Voices award and lecture series highlights individuals and firms with distinct design “voices,” singling out those with the potential to go on to even greater heights. 2018 saw two rounds of judging; first by a panel of past Emerging Voices winners, and a second to pick the winners. The first-round jury included Virginia San Fratello, Sebastian Schmaling, Wonne Ickx, Lola Sheppard, Marcelo Spina, Carlos Jimenez, and Marlon Blackwell, as well as members of the second-round jury, Sunil Bald, Lisa Gray, Stella Betts, Jing Liu, Paul Makovsky, Tom Phifer, Chris Reed, and Billie Tsien. Selected architects this year ranged in size and scope, but all of the firms presented a clear vision throughout their projects. There was a definite focus on the innovative designs coming out of the south and southwest this year, as three of the eight winners are based in Mexico; only two studios from the East Coast made the cut. AN profiled all of the firms below in our February print issue. Interested readers can catch the in-person lecture series from this year’s crop of winners at the SVA Theatre on 333 West 23rd Street in Manhattan, on March 1, 8, 15, and 22. Luis Aldrete’s collaborative practice elevates the quotidian Luis Aldrete’s Guadalajara, Mexico-based practice, founded in 2007, works across a variety of scales and types, from small public facilities to housing towers. “We like to work directly with those executing our designs to create what would otherwise be impossible,” architect Luis Aldrete explained, describing the hand-in-glove relationship his elemental practice has with the workers who build his projects. “What we can achieve using mostly our hands is incredible.” AGENCY uses deep research to push architectural boundaries Ersela Kripa and Stephen Mueller started AGENCY to consider the margins of the world. “We use our architectural training to uncover the shrinking of individual agency in public space and the reduction of human rights or potential human rights violations,” Kripa said. Working out of El Paso, Texas, the pair deploys words, maps, wearables, and installations to uncover contradictions in liminal spaces like military training sites, refugee camps, and borders—especially the one between the United States and Mexico. Comunal: Taller de Arquitectura deploys vernacular construction in Mexico’s traditional communities Since establishing their practice in 2015, Jesica Amescua and Mariana Ordóñez Grajales of Mexico City-based Comunal: Taller de Arquitectura, have continually worked to push the limits of their socially guided architectural practice and the architecture and building that result from it. Through built projects and academic research, the office also works to stave off the modernizing—and standardizing—effects of market forces and government regulation, which can produce alienating, short-lived structures and can often disincentivize the use of trusted materials like bamboo and thatch. Brooklyn’s Future Green wants to change the way we think about weeds For the Brooklyn, New York-based landscape architecture firm Future Green, “spontaneous urban plants” are part of a patchwork ecology that has the potential to transform our cities. Future Green’s work is another part of that ecology. A picturesque quality pervades Future Green designs, particularly architectural collaborations like the Atlantic Plumbing residences in Washington, D.C., with Morris Adjmi Architects, and 41 Bond Street in New York, with DDG. At Atlantic Plumbing, the 300-foot-long planted window boxes contribute to the building’s postindustrial character, while the plants climbing up from 41 Bond’s facade were inspired by a visit to the quarry that provided the building’s stone. Future Green will sometimes maintain these types of projects for years after their completion to learn how the plants respond and evolve.   In Buffalo, Davidson Rafailidis tackles big challenges with unique sensibility In Buffalo, Davidson Rafailidis tackles big challenges with unique sensibility">Spatial planning is king at Davidson Rafailidis. It has to be, because the small husband-and wife-run studio is focused on designing tight projects with equally tight budgets that can be adapted for long-term use. “In the end, the realized projects are very similar to essays,” explained Davidson. “When the project is inhabited and really comes alive, we always try to keep tabs, even on private projects, to see how they’re used and what changes and what needs to be adapted. We see that as ongoing research, to see how people respond to our ongoing spatial interventions.” For Mexico City-based Fernanda Canales, uncertainty is part of architecture For Mexico City–based Fernanda Canales, uncertainty is part of architecture">After studying architecture at prestigious schools in Spain and Mexico, Fernanda Canales quickly discovered that the rigorous techniques she had learned had little relevance in the real world. Since starting her firm, in 2002, she has opted for a more flexible, thoughtful, personal approach. LA-Más’s vibrant, socially conscious architecture sweeps L.A. For LA-Más, architecture does nothing if it doesn’t address a need. Guided by co-executive directors Elizabeth Timme and Helen Leung, the nonprofit urban design organization believes that too many young architects have become disconnected from this fundamental aspect of the discipline. By combining expertise in both design and policy, and by forming productive partnerships with other nonprofits, community groups, and local governments, the duo is creating street-level strategies for empowering communities that are often overlooked or threatened by demographic shifts. Modus Studio gets ahead by sticking to its Arkansas roots Modus Studio might have started in 2008 as a two-man operation in cofounder Chris Baribeau’s back office, but the firm’s expansion to 24 people and a full fabrication shop shouldn’t have come as a surprise. The office’s intensive focus on the surrounding Arkansas environment and their hands-on approach have drawn attention both inside and outside of the state.
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LA-Más’s vibrant, socially conscious architecture sweeps L.A.

The Architectural League of New York’s Emerging Voices award and lecture series highlights individuals and firms with distinct design “voices”, singling out those with the potential to go on to even greater heights. 2018 saw two rounds of judging; first by a panel of past Emerging Voices winners, and a second to pick the winners. The first-round jury included Virginia San Fratello, Sebastian Schmaling, Wonne Ickx, Lola Sheppard, Marcelo Spina, Carlos Jimenez, and Marlon Blackwell, as well as members of the second-round jury, Sunil Bald, Lisa Gray, Stella Betts, Jing Liu, Paul Makovsky, Tom Phifer, Chris Reed, and Billie Tsien. AN originally profiled all of the emerging voices firms in our February print issue. LA-Más founders Helen Leung and Elizabeth Timme will deliver their lecture on March 22nd, 2018, at the SVA Theatre in Manhattan. For LA-Más, architecture does nothing if it doesn’t address a need. Guided by co-executive directors Elizabeth Timme and Helen Leung, the nonprofit urban design organization believes that too many young architects have become disconnected from this fundamental aspect of the discipline. By combining expertise in both design and policy, and by forming productive partnerships with other nonprofits, community groups, and local governments, the duo is creating street-level strategies for empowering communities that are often overlooked or threatened by demographic shifts. Working in collaboration with district councils or local business development groups, LA-Más has developed a series of vibrant projects, throughout L.A. designed to create a safer and more accessible pedestrian experience. These high-impact, low-cost projects include wayfinding, murals, street furniture, and temporary parks like the cartoon-inspired interventions of Hollywood Pop!, which converts a vacant corner lot into a privately owned public space where passersby can share their thoughts about the neighborhood’s future. More substantial transformations have resulted from their small business support program, which was created to provide local mom-and-pops with design services and additional support. LA-Más doesn’t just give these businesses a new storefront; they give them a new outreach network and help with leases, licenses, and websites. “They don’t just feel like they’re surviving,” said Timme, “but that they’re supported, which is a huge paradigm change.” These projects aren’t the result of abstract planning exercise but of listening to the people who live and work in the neighborhood. Timme added: “That’s what Helen and I do—we facilitate a conversation between a community and the city.” LA-Más’s work with accessory dwelling units (ADUs) is its most ambitious, and perhaps most impactful, project yet. Created to combat the housing crisis in L.A., its ADU Pilot Project is an opportunity to get residents directly involved in the development of their communities by building affordable housing in their own backyards—literally. In collaboration with organizations including the mayor’s office, local council, and Habitat for Humanity, the firm is building their first ADU in the Highland Park neighborhood. The two-bedroom, 1,000-square-foot project will not only be a model for affordable and contextual housing solutions but for innovative financing and future ADU policy. And it’s the best example yet of the benefits offered by LA-Más’s unique blending of policy and planning. As Leung said, “Because we can combine all these skills, we get to test ideas, implement, figure out what works, ground it in the need of the community, and really push the boundaries of what’s possible.”
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For Mexico City–based Fernanda Canales, uncertainty is part of architecture

The Architectural League of New York’s Emerging Voices award and lecture series highlights individuals and firms with distinct design “voices”, singling out those with the potential to go on to even greater heights. 2018 saw two rounds of judging; first by a panel of past Emerging Voices winners, and a second to pick the winners. The first-round jury included Virginia San Fratello, Sebastian Schmaling, Wonne Ickx, Lola Sheppard, Marcelo Spina, Carlos Jimenez, and Marlon Blackwell, as well as members of the second-round jury, Sunil Bald, Lisa Gray, Stella Betts, Jing Liu, Paul Makovsky, Tom Phifer, Chris Reed, and Billie Tsien. AN profiled all of the emerging voices firms in our February print issue. Mexico City-based Fernanda Canales will deliver her lecture on March 8th, 2018, at the SVA Theatre in Manhattan. After studying architecture at prestigious schools in Spain and Mexico, Fernanda Canales quickly discovered that the rigorous techniques she had learned had little relevance in the real world. Since starting her firm, in 2002, she has opted for a more flexible, thoughtful, personal approach. “Instead of relying on formal, definite solutions, I try to give informal, indeterminate strategies,” said Canales, who has no office, no employees, and spends most of her time on construction sites, morphing her projects through constant observation and feedback. “I realized that my preparations didn’t match the reality of what clients want, what workers can do, the limits of budgets, and the reality of everyday life,” she said. The Bruma House, located on a rural site about two hours from Mexico City, began as a fairly typical home for a couple and their two children. But once her construction team began work, Canales realized that the project needed to better adapt to its lush landscape and to a climate that swung dramatically from day to night. Now, no rooms are directly attached, so every space has at least two windows, allowing for maximum natural light. The building meanders its way through the site, maintaining existing trees and plant life in the process. Since starting her firm, Canales has also shifted her focus to highlight the intermediate, often-neglected spaces between public and private. These, she noted, often have greater impact on the users and those living around the projects. The Portales Dwelling, a multifamily apartment in Mexico City, diverges from the city’s typical housing blocks, with their closed stairs, shut-off alleys, and unimaginative envelopes. Portales opens up in every place it can, with large balconies in front, uncovered patios in back, open stairs in between, and roof terraces above. “It addresses the beautiful climate of Mexico City, instead of ignoring it,” said Canales, who added that the addition of green and open spaces helps the development better fit into its context, minimizing the usual scorn from neighbors. With the Elena Garro Cultural Center, also in Mexico City, Canales converted a long-abandoned private manor into a public amenity. The first step was removing a large wall between the home and sidewalk, reinforcing that all were welcome. To further show the public what was inside the cloistered historic house, Canales created a large glass-walled addition in front, framed in concrete, exposing books and other amenities, which are surrounded by a series of updated gardens and courtyards. To keep her work as simple as possible, Canales generally avoids complex new materials, working often with concrete, which she values for its affordability, durability, and ease of use. “I go for what workers know how to do. It’s the most practical solution,” she noted. Her reading rooms, built for the Mexican Ministry of Culture for use around the country, are modular concrete structures that function as meeting and recreational spaces. Their perforated facades, which create an effect that Canales calls “social lanterns,” allow them to be easily built (without glazing or other complications) and their interiors to be visible from the outside, making them safer. Her careful, socially oriented approach, Canales pointed out, is not new, and she’s long been studying Mexican social housing—particularly its boom times, like the 1920s and 1950s. She’s soon publishing a book, called Shared Structure, Private Spaces: Housing in Mexico (Actar Publishers). “I can’t imagine doing without thinking or thinking without doing,” she said. “It’s all important research.”
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Comunal: Taller de Arquitectura deploys vernacular construction in Mexico’s traditional communities

The Architectural League of New York’s Emerging Voices award and lecture series highlights individuals and firms with distinct design “voices”, singling out those with the potential to go on to even greater heights. 2018 saw two rounds of judging; first by a panel of past Emerging Voices winners, and a second to pick the winners. The first-round jury included Virginia San Fratello, Sebastian Schmaling, Wonne Ickx, Lola Sheppard, Marcelo Spina, Carlos Jimenez, and Marlon Blackwell, as well as members of the second-round jury, Sunil Bald, Lisa Gray, Stella Betts, Jing Liu, Paul Makovsky, Tom Phifer, Chris Reed, and Billie Tsien. AN profiled all of the emerging voices firms in our February print issue. Comunal: Taller de Arquitectura founders Jesica Amescua and Mariana Ordóñez Grajales will deliver their lecture on March 15, 2018, at the SVA Theatre in Manhattan. Since establishing their practice in 2015, Mariana Ordóñez Grajales and Jesica Amescua, of Mexico City–based Comunal: Taller de Arquitectura, have continually worked to push the limits of their socially guided architectural practice and the architecture and building that result from it. The practice combines academically minded research with materials engineering and community-led participatory design and construction to generate new forms of vernacular architecture in rural communities. “Our work begins with a social feasibility study,” Ordóñez explained. “We analyze and understand the capacity, willingness, and degree of organization that a community has to face difficulties. Then, we carry out the processes of research, social management, participatory design methodology, and finally, construction itself.” For the architects, the true power of their profession lies in their ability to facilitate the culturally appropriate material improvement of these glossed-over rural communities, as evidenced by the firm’s work on a series of childbirth centers across Tenejapa Municipality, in the Mexican state of Chiapas. Comunal partnered with a group of local midwives to conceptualize a network of pitched clapboard structures that will help the delivery nurses formalize their practices and achieve their goal of eliminating infant and maternal mortality in the region. Through built projects and academic research, the office also works to stave off the modernizing—and standardizing—effects of market forces and government regulation, which can produce alienating, short-lived structures and can often disincentivize the use of trusted materials like bamboo and thatch. In a recent project, for Mexican social housing developer Infonavit, created in partnership with Mexico City-based architects Escobedo Soliz, Comunal helped create a courtyard home prototype built from these traditional materials. The vivendas are defined on one end by a home capped with a steeply raked roof that conceals a double-height interior volume containing a loft and the sleeping hammocks that are customary in the region. The courtyard complex is designed for passive ventilation and is erected out of running bonds of offset, buff-colored concrete block, with stone foundations. An indoor-outdoor kitchen sits opposite the lofted space, with a generous patio sandwiched in between. Amescua said, “Vernacular architecture poses a close link and a constant dialogue with the territory, where the symbiosis between it and the inhabitant becomes evident not only in the form and functioning of the architectural objects but in the way in which elements are grouped.” Working with traditional materials and construction techniques fueled Comunal’s approach for another social housing project, from 2013, with Unión de Cooperativas Tosepan Titataniske, a cooperative made up of indigenous communities in the state of Puebla. In this project, the designers pushed to incorporate bamboo construction in ways that would still allow regulators from the state to approve— and potentially fund—the project. For the development, Comunal and local partners developed a set of modular infill panels and roof trusses that sit on or between concrete-block walls and bamboo piers buttressed by intricate brickwork. The wall panels utilize bamboo and cementitious materials alternatively, depending on functional need, while the corrugated metal panel roof is designed to facilitate rainwater capture on site. Lessons gleaned from the project were implemented in a 2016 effort in the same area that utilizes a primary set of concrete posts and beams for structure instead of bamboo. The social housing project was recognized in November 2016 with a silver medal in Mexico’s National Housing Commission’s First National Rural Housing Contest and has led to new work with the organization.
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Brooklyn’s Future Green wants to change the way we think about weeds

The Architectural League of New York’s Emerging Voices award and lecture series highlights individuals and firms with distinct design “voices”, singling out those with the potential to go on to even greater heights. 2018 saw two rounds of judging; first by a panel of past Emerging Voices winners, and a second to pick the winners. The first-round jury included Virginia San Fratello, Sebastian Schmaling, Wonne Ickx, Lola Sheppard, Marcelo Spina, Carlos Jimenez, and Marlon Blackwell, as well as members of the second-round jury, Sunil Bald, Lisa Gray, Stella Betts, Jing Liu, Paul Makovsky, Tom Phifer, Chris Reed, and Billie Tsien. AN profiled all of the emerging voices firms in our February print issue. Future Green founder David Seiter will deliver his lecture on March 1, 2018, at the SVA Theatre in Manhattan. For the Brooklyn, New York–based landscape architecture firm Future Green, “spontaneous urban plants” are part of a patchwork ecology that has the potential to transform our cities. Future Green’s work is another part of that ecology. David Seiter founded Future Green in 2008 because he felt disconnected from his work in more traditional offices, applying new landscapes onto a site when he wanted to “draw them out of the place itself.” Now grown to about 25 people, his office features a garden and 6,000-square-foot fabrication facility for prototyping new ideas and new ways of weaving contextual plantings into urban sites. A picturesque quality pervades Future Green designs, particularly architectural collaborations like the Atlantic Plumbing residences in Washington, D.C., with Morris Adjmi Architects, and 41 Bond Street in New York, with DDG. At Atlantic Plumbing, the 300-foot-long planted window boxes contribute to the building’s postindustrial character, while the plants climbing up from 41 Bond’s facade were inspired by a visit to the quarry that provided the building’s stone. Future Green will sometimes maintain these types of projects for years after their completion to learn how the plants respond and evolve. Nowadays, an outdoor venue on a former rubble-strewn industrial site in Queens, New York, takes an informal approach. Stepping into the 18,000-square-foot space almost feels like stepping into a friend’s backyard. It’s cultivated but not too cultivated, organized around three large earth mounds, shaded by a grid of honey locust trees that help remediate the soil, and planted throughout with weeds. “We were able to leave a lot of traditionally weed species on the site,” said Seiter, “and then we seeded in a lot of other species that are, I would say, on the edge of acceptable.” For now, Future Green is advocating for a new understanding of “native landscape” that isn’t driven by climate but by human-created conditions. The firm's largest project to date is Half Street, a mixed-use curbless street in D.C., located near the Washington Nationals stadium. On game days, the retail-lined street closes to automotive traffic and becomes a pedestrian plaza for 30,000 people. Future Green’s design draws from its context and the need for flexibility; it includes a paving pattern inspired by Pierre L’Enfant’s iconic plan for the city, large tree pits paired with bio-swales, and other “soft” infrastructural elements designed to manage both water runoff and pedestrian traffic while creating a distinct sense of place. Future Green’s design for Half Street reflects their belief that streets are “the foundation for good new urban space.” As Seiter said, “If we can actually design our streets and sidewalks to be more effective green spaces and more-actively designed spaces for the public realm, we can create a new garden city.”
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In Buffalo, Davidson Rafailidis tackles big challenges with unique sensibility

The Architectural League of New York’s Emerging Voices award and lecture series highlights individuals and firms with distinct design “voices,” singling out those with the potential to go on to even greater heights. 2018 saw two rounds of judging; first by a panel of past Emerging Voices winners, and a second to pick the winners. The first-round jury included Virginia San Fratello, Sebastian Schmaling, Wonne Ickx, Lola Sheppard, Marcelo Spina, Carlos Jimenez, and Marlon Blackwell, as well as members of the second-round jury, Sunil Bald, Lisa Gray, Stella Betts, Jing Liu, Paul Makovsky, Tom Phifer, Chris Reed, and Billie Tsien. AN profiled all of the emerging voices firms in our February print issue. Davidson Rafailidis founders Stephanie Davidson and Georg Rafailidis will deliver their lecture on March 15, 2018, at the SVA Theatre in Manhattan. Spatial planning is king at Davidson Rafailidis. It has to be, because the small husband-and wife-run studio is focused on designing tight projects with equally tight budgets that can be adapted for long-term use. Both founding partners, Stephanie Davidson and Georg Rafailidis, teach in the nearby State University of New York at Buffalo’s architecture department and frequently integrate more academic theory into their built projects than a traditional studio. It’s a natural progression, as the couple originally met while they were students at the Architectural Association School of Architecture, in London. “In the end, the realized projects are very similar to essays,” explained Davidson. “When the project is inhabited and really comes alive, we always try to keep tabs, even on private projects, to see how they’re used and what changes and what needs to be adapted. We see that as ongoing research, to see how people respond to our ongoing spatial interventions.” Nowhere is this approach more evident than in the studio’s 2015 transformation of a formerly vacant corner store in Buffalo into the vibrant Cafe Fargo (now under the name, Tipico Coffee). The coffee shop strips the monolithic brick building back to its raw materials and introduces colored tiles throughout to delineate the new space from the old. Working under serious budget constraints, Davidson Rafailidis was forced to “make machinery itself the architecture,” according to Rafailidis. Instead of using a bulky HVAC system, the studio installed large operable windows and a skylight, for passive cooling, and a wood-burning "kachelofen" hearth, clad in tile, that provides ambient heat. Most tellingly, Rafailidis said that guests often don’t realize that the heater is a new addition to the space. The cafe has grown to host pop-up events and public gatherings, reinforcing the building’s continually evolving relationship with its users. The 2016 project He, She & It, a tripartite studio space in Buffalo for a creative couple, unifies a painter’s studio (He), ceramic and silver-working area (She), and greenhouse (It) under one umbrella. While each space has a vastly different use, all of them use a mono-pitched roof with a long overhang to funnel rainwater into a garden at the building’s base. Each space relies on passive heating and cooling, as well as natural overhead lighting, and the greenhouse can be opened up to share its solar gain with the working spaces in colder months. He, She & It has won its fair share of acclaim in the last year—though if this recognition has made Davidson and Rafailidis’s lives more hectic, they can’t tell. “It’s really a challenge with our small size. Even to go to see a building someone wants to show us can take half of our workday,” said Davidson. “Both of us are on AutoCAD, and on Rhino, and making models, and also going to meetings; it’s a big challenge. It doesn’t feel like it’s more work, because we’ve become accustomed to this crazy schedule.”
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Modus Studio gets ahead by sticking to its Arkansas roots

The Architectural League of New York’s Emerging Voices award and lecture series highlights individuals and firms with distinct design “voices”, singling out those with the potential to go on to even greater heights. 2018 saw two rounds of judging; first by a panel of past Emerging Voices winners, and a second to pick the winners. The first-round jury included Virginia San Fratello, Sebastian Schmaling, Wonne Ickx, Lola Sheppard, Marcelo Spina, Carlos Jimenez, and Marlon Blackwell, as well as members of the second-round jury, Sunil Bald, Lisa Gray, Stella Betts, Jing Liu, Paul Makovsky, Tom Phifer, Chris Reed, and Billie Tsien. AN profiled all of the emerging voices firms in our February print issue. Modus Studio founder Chris Baribeau will deliver his lecture on March 1st, 2018, at the SVA Theatre in Manhattan. Modus Studio might have started in 2008 as a two-man operation in cofounder Chris Baribeau’s back office, but the firm’s expansion to 24 people and a full fabrication shop shouldn’t have come as a surprise. The office’s intensive focus on the surrounding Arkansas environment and their hands-on approach have drawn attention both inside and outside of the state. “A thinking–making philosophy really evolved out of our passions, from working through college, working on construction, working on fabrication,” explained Baribeau. “It set the tone for the rest of our professional work.” Modus is a frequent collaborator with the University of Arkansas and has designed for the school a pair of mass timber residence halls, an athletic area master plan, and, most recently, a sculpture studio— although the firm has realized nearly every type of project. Its single-family homes typically draw on the surrounding geographies and ecosystems to influence the final forms, as is the case with Van Huset on the Bluff, a stark cabin overlooking Beaver Lake, in northwest Arkansas. Educational work has a special place in the studio’s canon. Green Forest Middle School, Modus’s first project, was also the first school that either Baribeau or cofounder Josh Siebert had ever worked on. Having to leap into a new building typology meant engaging heavily with the community at every step of the school’s design and construction, an approach that has carried over to all of their projects afterward. Timber and sustainability are prominent through-lines in many of Modus’s built works, no matter the intended use. Working with timber allows the studio to harvest wood directly from the trees on-site, or if they’re not able to do so, connect with Arkansas’s timber industry. Even Modus’s Fayetteville office, a reclaimed warehouse clad in timber that was charred in the fabrication shop, is winning notice, as it was Arkansas’s only LEED Platinum– certified building in 2017. “We’re very connected to the natural world,” said Baribeau. “And being in the Ozarks, the language of the rugged mountains and valleys and rivers connects us to the outdoor world. We’re straddling this dynamic place that’s somewhere between the manmade and the natural world. Our buildings are about fitting into the landscape and drawing inspiration from the context around the site.” Modus views its location outside of the “major design cities” as a boon. Arkansas is in the process of rebuilding and infilling its urban centers, providing the studio an opportunity to experiment while allowing them to build their brand through projects that serve the community. While Modus has begun working on projects as far north as Illinois, Baribeau is most proud of the K–12 schools that the studio has designed for low-income, rural areas. “We’ve found, particularly in this region of Arkansas, how rural communities are really underserved in terms of good design. The hub of that community, their tax money, the local football team, all focuses around the public school. For us, the ongoing tilling of the soil is to raise the bar for rural communities."
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Luis Aldrete’s collaborative practice elevates the quotidian

The Architectural League of New York’s Emerging Voices award and lecture series highlights individuals and firms with distinct design “voices”, singling out those with the potential to go on to even greater heights. 2018 saw two rounds of judging; first by a panel of past Emerging Voices winners, and a second to pick the winners. The first-round jury included Virginia San Fratello, Sebastian Schmaling, Wonne Ickx, Lola Sheppard, Marcelo Spina, Carlos Jimenez, and Marlon Blackwell, as well as members of the second-round jury, Sunil Bald, Lisa Gray, Stella Betts, Jing Liu, Paul Makovsky, Tom Phifer, Chris Reed, and Billie Tsien. AN profiled all of the emerging voices firms in our February print issue. Estudio de Arquitectura founder Luis Aldrete will deliver his lecture on March 22, 2018, at the SVA Theatre in Manhattan. Luis Aldrete’s Guadalajara, Mexico-based practice, founded in 2007, works across a variety of scales and types, from small public facilities to housing towers. “We like to work directly with those executing our designs to create what would otherwise be impossible,” architect Luis Aldrete explained, describing the hand-in-glove relationship his elemental practice has with the workers who build his projects. “What we can achieve using mostly our hands is incredible.” Because some builders do not know how to read and write, the architect will typically take a more proactive role in directing construction and coordinating tradespeople—and not just by spending extra time on-site. Aldrete synergizes his design sensibilities with what his workers can produce. “We don’t believe in detail drawings,” Aldrete said. “For us, [overwrought] construction details represent a type of over-design. Instead of producing complicated detailing, we like to focus on precision in construction.” The buildings Aldrete designs, like the series of poetically spare shelters in the Mexican state of Jalisco he designed in conjunction with Chinese artist Ai Weiwei and Mexican architect Tatiana Bilbao along the Pilgrim Route, are quick to show off that precision. The cooling shelters, long and wedge-shaped, are designed with solid adobe-colored concrete-block walls that dematerialize as they rise. They dot the pilgrimage route, offering respite from the heat while providing water and camping facilities. “Some people intellectualize architectural discourse too much,” Aldrete said. “We like working on quotidian concerns, like shade and rest, instead. The way one can provoke life in common spaces is inspiring.” The architect and his half-dozen or so employees have more than a handful of projects in the pipeline, including a trio of apartment towers slated for a rapidly urbanizing section of the otherwise flat city of Guadalajara, as well as several moody single-family homes and a series of social housing complexes across the region. These low-slung masonry complexes typically feature monolithic punched openings, structurally dependent massing, and pockets of interconnected and shared outdoor spaces. The 15-story concrete-frame towers, on the other hand, are more platonic in their forms and create a triangular courtyard between one another, leaving a large percentage of the site open for public spaces and gardens. The exoskeleton for each of the gridded towers creates shade for the units within, which are designed as spare and variously lit quarters. Like several of the firm’s projects, the 132-unit development is guided by a “love and passion for ruins,” as Aldrete said. “Some of our work looks like ruins, and we like that.”